Card Game Review – Ratuki – A real time, fast playing, ladder based, up to five player, family card game

Ratuki, the fast flippin’ quick grabbn’ card game, is back from The Op. This classic card game is played in real-time with players trying to make stacks of cards, starting at one and going to five, where each card played must be one higher or lower than the last.

This family weight card game is a true classic that uses well-known ladder based card game mechanics but makes it interesting by making it real-time and giving each player their own deck. 

Disclosure: The Op was awesome enough to send me a review copy of this card game. Some links in this post are affiliate links. Using these links doesn’t cost you anything extra and it helps support this blog and podcast. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

What comes in the box with Ratuki the card game?

Ratuki was created by Greg Zima. It is a non-collectable card game for two to five players. Ratuki is lightning quick with each round only lasting about five minutes and a full game taking well under half an hour. It was originally published by Schmidt Spiele in 2009. Since then there have been editions from Hasbro and Magellan. The most recent edition, and the one I’m reviewing here, is from The Op. 

For a look at what you get in a copy of this small box game check out our Ratuki unboxing video on YouTube

Ratuki comes in a fairly small box that could actually be significantly smaller. Based on the size of the fold-out rulebook I wonder if a smaller box was originally planned, as the instructions are about the size of a UNO package. These rules, which are only two pages long, are quick to read and get you playing though they are a bit incomplete (more about that later).

The various ways numbers are represented in the card game RatukiThe rest of the game components are cards. There are five decks of cards with thirty-five cards each. Each deck has two Ratuki cards plus cards numbered from one to five represented in different ways. There are numerals, tick marks, numbers as written words, a hand holding up a number of fingers and the pips from a six-sided die. 

The box has a cardboard trough-like insert that doesn’t actually work to keep the cards separated into five different decks as you have to split one of them in half to make them all fit. 

How do you play the real-time card game Ratuki?

A hand of cards in the party game RatukiTo start a game of Ratuki each player takes one of the five decks and shuffles it. They then draw three cards and hold these cards in one of their hands. 

Someone shouts “Ratuki” and the game starts. 

All players play simultaneously, playing one card from their one hand to the table using their other hand. Cards played are played into different stacks with the maximum number of stacks being the number of players playing. 

Each stack must start with a Ratuki card or a one. Each card played must be either one higher or one lower than the top card on a stack. 

The middle of a game of Ratuki a real-time card game. When a player plays a five on the top of a stack they say “Ratuki” and take that pile of cards and place it in their scoring area. In addition, players can play a Ratuki card on the top of any stack, say “Ratuki” and claim that stack.

Finally, if a player cannot play any of the cards in their hand they can discard that card to their trash pile. When they run out of cards in their draw deck they flip over their trash pile and it becomes a new draw deck. 

The round ends when a player plays their last card or when it’s clear that no one can play any more cards on the piles currently in play.

At the end of each round players get points. Points are awarded on a one for one basis for each card players have collected in their scoring pile. Points are lost, again on a one for one basis, for any cards left in the player’s hand or draw deck.

The game ends when any player surpasses one hundred points with the player with the most points winning. 

There are some simple rules that need to be followed when doing this:

  • The summary card with rules to remember in RatukiPlayers must always have three cards in their hand.
  • You cannot play cards with both hands, one hand holds the cards the other plays them to the table.
  • You can only play one card at a time and after it’s played you must draw a card before playing another. 
  • You can only have a number of centre stacks going equal to the number of players or less.
  • If two players try to play on the same stack at exactly the same time both players must trash the cards they were about to play.

What did we think of Ratuki from The Op?

A five player game of Ratuki a family friend card game.Right from looking at the box for the first time, I knew that Ratuki would be a quick, simple to learn, card game that would be good for light game nights. I suspected that it would probably be great for playing with non-gamers and I was not disappointed. 

A group can be up and playing Ratuki in minutes. The rules are extremely simple to teach and understand, though I do recommend doing one quick sample round before you start keeping track of scores just to make sure everyone has the full concept. Reminders about ties and the use of a Ratuki card to take a pile may also be useful.

To add to this potential confusion the rulebook for this version of Ratuki seem to be missing the section on how to end a round. While it may be obvious that you stop when someone is out of cards or when you can’t play anymore, that’s not actually stated anywhere. 

Besides that small rulebook omission, I didn’t find anything to dislike about Ratuki. It’s a simple, fast-playing, card game that worked well both with one of my kids (the other wasn’t interested in trying) and with my extended family. It’s super quick, fast and furious, fun, with just enough thinking required to keep it interesting. 

Ratuki is a great card game for all ages.Overall I think Ratuki is a great gateway game, perfect for introducing to people who dig card games in general and good for non-gamers due to being simple to pick up. It’s fast and furious and quite fun and can be great for building the energy at the start of a game night and getting people to start interacting. I think hardcore gamers may enjoy this one as a good starter or filler to take up some time and relax before moving on to heavier games. 

We’ve had quite a bit of fun with Ratuki and I think it’s a great choice if you are looking for a quick-playing, easy to explain card game that’s very accessible to gamers of all experience levels. 

To me, Ratuki will be staying in my collection to break out as both a gateway game to bring out to public events and as a filler game for the start of or middle of a longer game night. What’s your go to filler game you like to break out to kill some time between bigger games?

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